Will New Legislation Bring Self-Driving Cars to Tennessee?

Photo of Tennessee Capitol Building in NashvilleSelf-driving cars have been rolling out for testing in states all over the United States. So far, the main hubs for this testing has been on the west coast, but Tennessee may soon list itself as one of the states that are changing the way you catch a ride in this country. However, new legislation could make this essential testing difficult for tech companies. Is that a good thing or a bad thing for drivers in Tennessee?

Why Haven’t Self Driving Cars Come to Tennessee Yet?

The invention of the autonomous vehicle has sparked the imaginations of people all across this country. These machines have the potential to decrease traffic, to offer transportation on demand, and to prevent accidents, but there’s still a lot of testing to be done. That’s why tech companies and auto manufacturers have been rolling out test models of these vehicles all over the country. However, many states are concerned that this new technology might be rolling out too soon, so they are trying to limit exactly how and who can test vehicle in their states. Enter the SAVe Act.

The Safe Autonomous Vehicle Act (SAVe Act) is a bill that only allows auto manufacturers to test self-driving vehicles in particular states. This would mean that tech companies like Uber and Google/Waymo couldn’t test their autonomous vehicles on public roads in whatever state adopts SAVe Act legislation.

Are The SAVe Acts Good or Bad For Tennessee?

Michigan is the only state to pass safe act legislation, and right now Maryland, Georgia, Illinois and our very own home state of Tennessee are looking to follow. But there are some details that everyone needs to know.

General Motors helped draft the bill that passed in Michigan. This partially explains why such bills are favorable to automakers, but these manufacturing giants have their reasons. Carmakers claim that allowing only manufacturers to test ensures that any injuries or damages caused by a crash can be paid for in a class action lawsuit, but tech companies are calling foul.

Google—who owns Waymo—and Uber claim these bills are anti-competitive and rob Americans of the right to have a choice about where they get their ride. One state seems to agree with these tech companies.

What Do the State Legislators Have to Say?

In the Michigan SAVe Act that passed, the legislature changed the definition of “motor vehicle manufacturer” to include companies developing and testing self-driving systems. Uber and Waymo helped make these changes to Michigan’s legislation, but the other states—including Tennessee—are still using language from the original GM SAVe Act, which could leave tech companies out of the development loop. These tech companies say that this could slow down the development of safe autonomous driving technology, and that could put drivers on the road at risk.

Autonomous vehicles will continue to be an on-road safety issue for years to come. So, it makes sense to get the development of this technology right. That’s why our Nashville defective car parts attorney is standing by for any car or truck accidents this new technology may cause.

“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” —Psalm 4:8



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